Throughout October, we’ll be celebrating one of Irish America’s best as we read “The Ninth Hour: A Novel” by Alice McDermott.

We journey to Irish America and to Catholic Brooklyn throughout October with National Book Award Winner Alice McDermott.

With a new book announcement on the first day of each month, stay with us throughout the month as we talk to the authors and give you a chance to discuss some great Irish works. The best way to stay in touch with us and other book club members is to join our dedicated Facebook group here, where you can leave your comments and questions or you can give us some great Irish recommendations.

"The Ninth Hour."

"The Ninth Hour."

If you have any further comments, questions for the author or recommendations for a future IrishCentral Book of the Month, you can email us at  

You can purchase “The Ninth Hour: A Novel” here.

Or if you want a little taster before your purchase, Picador has kindly published the first chapter here. 

Read more: Voting for America’s best-loved book - will an Irish American author win?

IrishCentral’s October Book of the Month: “The Ninth Hour: A Novel”

Author/Editor: Alice McDermott

Alice McDermott. Image: Picador USA.

Alice McDermott. Image: Picador USA.

Publisher: Picador

Genre: Fiction

Synopsis: A magnificent new novel from one of America’s finest writers―a powerfully affecting story spanning the twentieth century of a widow and her daughter and the nuns who serve their Irish-American community in Brooklyn.

On a dim winter afternoon, a young Irish immigrant opens the gas taps in his Brooklyn tenement. He is determined to prove―to the subway bosses who have recently fired him, to his pregnant wife―“that the hours of his life belong to himself alone.” In the aftermath of the fire that follows, Sister St. Savior, an aging nun appears, unbidden, to direct the way forward for his widow and his unborn child.

We begin deep inside Catholic Brooklyn, in the early part of the twentieth century. Decorum, superstition, and shame collude to erase the man’s brief existence. Yet his suicide, although never spoken of, reverberates through many lives and over the decades testing the limits and the demands of love and sacrifice, of forgiveness and forgetfulness, even through multiple generations.

The characters we meet, from Sally, the unborn baby at the beginning of the novel, who becomes the center of the story to the nuns whose personalities we come to know and love to the neighborhood families with whose lives they are entwined, are all rendered with extraordinary sympathy and McDermott’s trademark lucidity and intelligence. Alice McDermott’s “The Ninth Hour” is a crowning achievement by one of the premiere writers at work in America today.

About the author: Alice McDermott is the author of seven previous novels, including “After This;” “Child of My Heart;” “Charming Billy,” winner of the 1998 National Book Award; “At Weddings and Wakes;” and “Someone”―all published by FSG. “That Night,” “At Weddings and Wakes,” and “After This” were all finalists for the Pulitzer Prize. Her stories and essays have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Yorker, Harper’s Magazine, and elsewhere. She is the Richard A. Macksey Professor of the Humanities at Johns Hopkins University.

You can purchase “The Ninth Hour: A Novel” here.

Be sure to join the IrishCentral Book Club group here or to send us an email with questions at